Creative Australia and Music in Communities

by Alex Masso, March 2013

The Creative Australia policy offers a timely, contemporary and necessary cultural policy framework and a range of strategic actions. There are gaps in spheres of action and gaps in narrative, but overall it is a mighty effort in a complex and diverse part of Australian life.

Creative Australia logoThere are two particular highlights in this policy for the Music in Communities Network agenda:

  • The Creative Young Stars initiative, if managed well, could be a great support mechanism for young artist AND have additional benefits for school-community links and public awareness of participation in the arts.
  • The Arts Accord hasthe potential to be a major legacy of the Creative Australia policy.

There are no initiatives specifically designed to support community-based participation in music for adult Australians, although there is one initiative to support participation of young people. Therefore, we look to the opportunities lying within the Creative Australia policy and look to state and local governments to work cooperatively to advance a creative participation agenda.

Where to next?

There are opportunities in this policy to expand in many directions and leverage the benefits of the policy and its initiatives. Here are our top suggestions for the way forward, as we continue our work to support, promote and increase participation in music at a community level. Note that these suggestions do not necessarily involve additional funding, other than contributions from state governments to support the Arts Accord.

  • All federal parliamentarians can support the framework provided by Creative Australia and work constructively to implement, improve, and evolve the policy over time. The document itself offers hope and support for musical life in Australia and will require real engagement from all parties, particularly during the remainder of this parliament and the next parliament.
  • All stakeholders involved in the Arts Accord process can consider community participation in the arts as an important part of the arts ecosystem, and one in which all three levels of government have a role to play. The Arts Accord is not mentioned in the relevant section of the Creative Australia policy and therefore it cannot be assumed that community arts and participation are on the agenda.
  • The strength of the Arts Accord will depend on the commitment and input of the key stakeholders. Among those stakeholders are local and state/territory governments. Capital cities and state governments have the resources to contribute to the Accord in their own way. Suburban metropolitan and regional communities need strong representation via the local government sector. All state and territory governments can support the Arts Accord in a meaningful way by committing four years’ funding to local government associations in their state for a local government cultural policy position, as NSW and QLD already have in place.
  • The Arts and Education Ministers, whose departments will jointly fund the Creative Young Stars, can consult with the sector before implementing the initiative. We want to ensure that Creative Young Stars has guidelines relevant to the arts and leverages the substantial investment of the federal government to pursue positive outcomes for arts education, community music and community arts.
  • Creative Partnerships Australia can use its new structure and increased funding to support community-based music and arts organisations. The government’s view that it is “important to provide advisory services to small to medium arts organisations, especially in regional and remote areas” could include resources that are suitable for the thousands of volunteer-based community arts organisations in Australia, including our members.

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